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Fighting for Kids


As a parent, I am deeply concerned over the escalating number of American children who have been placed on mind-altering psychiatric drugs over the last decade because of being labeled with subjective, non-medical mental disorders, like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). All too often, parents are told that their child has a mental disorder and that this is a medical condition requiring that they be put on drugs. This is fraudulent. There are no blood tests, brain scans or “chemical imbalance” tests that can prove that any of these so called mental disorders are a disease, illness or medical condition. No such tests exist. These “tests” are simply a checklist of behaviors -- subjective questionnaires -- to determine if these children have so-called mental illnesses. Some of these questions are: does the child fidget, squirm in his seat, or stare out the window? Does he sometimes lose his homework, pencils or toys?

Where in all of medicine is a diagnosis of disease made strictly by talking to someone? Would a parents subject their child to chemotherapy if there were no evidence of cancer cells? Would they take a doctor’s word for it that he could diagnose their child with cancer simply by asking the child some questions or observing his behavior? Yet parents are being told that their child has a mental “disease” and that they need to take dangerous and unproven drugs -- when there is no medical proof that anything is wrong with the child.

I have spoken out for parent's rights for the last seven years. Two years ago I worked to garner national support for the federal Child Medication Safety Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a landslide vote of 425 to 1, and was signed into federal law by President George Bush in December 2004, as the Prohibition Mandatory Medication Amendment. The federal bill required that federal funding be withheld from any school that coerced parents to drug their children with controlled substances. That is also why I supported Florida House Bill 209 which took the federal amendment several steps further by preventing any student from being coerced onto any psychotropic drug in schools and requiring parents be informed that their child’s problematic behavior may have physical causes that could be treated with actual medical care -- as opposed to potentially damaging mind control drugs. Both SB 1090 and HB 209, a similar bill, were passed unanimously by both the Florida House and the Florida Senate. However, Governor Bush chose to veto HB 209 and sign only SB 1090, which did not include informing parents that their child’s behavior could be the result of an undiagnosed physical condition. While Governor Bush vetoed HB 209, the passage of SB 1090, as recognized by the Governor in his statement, does mark forward progress in addressing this serious problem. Governor Bush said: “I share the concerns of many of the proponents of this bill (HB 209) who draw attention to the all too frequent use of pharmaceuticals for children whose health and behavioral problems may benefit from other forms of intervention. Further, I am a firm supporter of parental notification in all types of medical care provided to children.” Now that Senate Bill 1090 is law, safeguards have been created for parents in Florida that prevent them from being coerced to put their children on dangerous psychotropic drugs or from being psychologically evaluated -- simply, parents now have the right to refuse psychiatric testing with invasive questionnaires that could easily result in any child being diagnosed mentally “ill” and subsequently drugged. I want to thank Florida Senators Skip Campbell and Victor Crist, and Representative Gus Barreiro, for their courageous efforts in bringing the urgent problem of psychiatric drugging of children to the forefront of the Florida Legislature. Through their efforts, the problem was also spotlighted onto the national scene.

I will continue to work with other concerned groups and legislators to find legislative measures that will not just prevent parents being forced to put their children on psychotropic drugs, as this new law now does, but to ensure that parents are fully informed of the dangers of psychotropic drugging and alternative solutions, including actual medical examination and non-harmful treatments to resolve underlying conditions for the child’s behavior (an important section of HB 209). Parents are the ones who have the right, the duty and the responsibility to nurture, care and protect their children. They should not be coerced in any manner to place their children on psychiatric drugs. They should also be given all the relevant information so they can make their own informed decision, not just the information coming from the industry that benefits from the drugging of children. Child drugging is over a one billion dollar a year industry, and growing. Parents need to know that there are alternatives to drugging. It is ridiculous that here in America, citizens have to fight for laws that protect a parent’s fundamental right to informed consent so they can fully protect their children and ensure their safety in schools. But fight we must.

Today we have 10 million children on psychiatric drugs. Side effects of these drugs include mania, psychosis, hostility, suicide and drug dependence. The administration of these mind-altering and dangerous drugs to children has become a national disgrace. If we keep drugging our children at this rate, in ten years we will have 40 million children on psychiatric drugs -- that’s almost 4/5ths of our nations school children. Parents are risking their child’s life with drugs that can cause future drug addiction, mania, suicide, psychosis and violence. Medical studies show that children can suffer not only from allergies, but from chemical toxicities or exposure to heavy metals (i.e. lead and mercury) or even poor diet. In 2002, the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education found an astounding 2.4 million children who had been labeled with "learning disorders" when they had never been taught to read. Another study showed that 50% of the students labeled with a “learning disability” were just not getting enough sleep. The point is that there are many solutions to handling a child’s academic difficulties or behaviors. Parents have the right to know their options -- to consult a medical doctor to discover if there are real physical causes, and to be informed that that these labels of mental disorders are created by questionnaires and not medical tests. I know that there are concerned parents out there who are concerned about this issue. I have heard from many of them. I encourage all concerned with protecting parental rights to join me in letting our legislators know that they must not just notice that there is a problem, they must do something effective to handle it.

FACTS:

The number of children on psychotropic drugs has increased by 500% since 1999.

8 of the last 13 school shootings in America were committed by children under the influence of psychiatric drugs linked to hostility and suicide.

Many children have committed suicide as a result of psychiatric drugs. One study shows that 81% of the child suicides in Pinellas County, Florida were committed by children who were either on these psychotropic drugs or under psychiatric treatment. It was 100% in Pasco County. Last year, the FDA ordered that antidepressants include a warning that they can cause suicidal tendencies in children and adolescents. British and European Medical Regulatory Agencies banned the use of many of these drugs for most purposes with children under the age of 18.

According to an IMS Health survey, between 1995 and 1999, the use of antidepressants increased 580 percent in children under the age of six.

It is undisputed that actual physical, medical problems are routinely misdiagnosed as ADHD, ADD, and other “behavioral disorders.” Parents and teachers are not being informed that the reason for their child’s behavior may just lay in an actual, diagnosable, physical medical problem that could be solved through normal medical treatment. Consider the case of Austin Harris from Florida who was hailed as “the poster child for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD). He was the child no one wanted to be around and was kicked out of 11 preschools in three years for doing everything from shouting obscenities and hitting other children to poking a teacher in the eye with a pencil. He was prescribed stimulants with no dramatic change in his behavior. But something unexpected happened after Austin went to the hospital to have a blockage removed from his colon. The child no one wanted to be around was no longer terrorizing his teachers and classmates. Instead, Austin, who is now 12, was able to sit quietly and was a joy to be around. He gave up the psychotropic medication. According to leading medical experts, the connection between behavior and chronic constipation in children is not uncommon. “The bad behaviors disappear as soon as the impaction is removed,” said Dr. Paul Hyman, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

There is a world of difference between the art of identifying symptoms and the science of finding and treating causes. Psychiatrists specialize in cataloguing symptoms and then try to convince people that the symptoms are causes and that their treatments “work,” merely because the symptoms appear to have dissipated or changed. But these are not causes, they are just symptoms, and their treatments often bring about a worsening of the person’s condition. Any medical doctor who takes the time to conduct a thorough physical examination of a child exhibiting signs of what psychiatrists say are “mental disorders,” can very often find undiagnosed, untreated physical conditions. Medical doctors have established that mercury poisoning, environmental toxins and allergies can affect behavior and academic performance and can create symptoms, which have been labeled as childhood behavioral and attention “disorders.” Gases, cleaning fluids, scents and other chemicals can make a child “irritable, inattentive, spacey, aggressive, depressed or hyperactive.” Physical conditions such as thyroid malfunction can produce symptoms of various “mental disorders.” It is well known that abnormal thyroid conditions can dramatically effect mood and cause severe depression, fatigue and memory loss. Dr. Sydney Walker III, a psychiatrist and neurologist wrote that thousands of children put on psychiatric drugs are simply “smart.” “They're hyper, not because their brains don’t work right, but because they spend most of the day waiting for slower students to catch up with them. These students are bored to tears, and people who are bored fidget, wiggle, scratch, stretch, and (especially if they are boys) start looking for ways to get into trouble.” Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, educator and author, says that psychotropic drugs for any reading or comprehension problem is very wrong. Often, he says, the problem is the child has never been taught phonics and doesn’t understand what he or she is reading, causing disruptive behavior. Again, I encourage all parents and concerned citizens to get educated on this very important issue and to support state and federal protections for parents’ and children’s rights. For more information, go to www.fightforkids.org